Writer’s Corner: Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Preemptive Offer

Writer’s Corner: Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Preemptive Offer

It’s exciting to get a call from your literary agent (or directly from the publisher) informing you they are interested in your book. You want to celebrate and of course you should. But before you pop the cork on that champagne, make sure you know what you’re signing up for. Just ask the experts in the industry. Each publishing contract differs ranging from individual rights and auctions, or even a preempt.

When you hear the word “preempt” it’s a massive compliment. They feel strongly that your book will do well, they want to get out in front of the competition and offer you a fantastic publishing contract. With a preemptive offer you typically have twenty-four hours to decide because they don’t want you “shopping around” your book to other publishers. It sounds great, and often it is, but it’s still a gamble. You’ll take the bet there won’t be higher offers from other houses or a better editorial and marketing match for you and your book.

A preemptive offer is nothing to sneeze at. It’s huge! A dream come true! Congrats! But before you sign on the dotted line, here are a few questions to consider asking:

  • What are the pros and cons of accepting this offer? (Ask this of your agent.)
  • How much time do I have before the offer expires?
  • Are you willing to negotiate my advance and royalties? (Though this is often handled by your agent.)
  • Who owns my manuscript and copyright once published?
  • What territories/geographical regions are included in this contract?
  • What are the formats my book will be released in?
  • Through what vendor sources will it be sold?
  • What are the publishers and author rights and when does this agreement expire?
  • What input will I have on design, format, marketing? If so, how much and what will that look like?
  • What is the timeline for my book release? How long from signing to seeing my book on the shelf?
  • Once I sign the contract, what are the next steps?
  • Who will be my Point of Contact (POC) with the publisher?

I encourage you to share your own questions below, or stories and experiences with preemptive offers. It’s a gift to learn from authors and experts on Books Uplift.

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